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Southern California water rationing may be on the way

January 14, 2009 |  6:29 pm


Doing some winter planting? Looks like drought-tolerant varieties should be at the top of your list.

An official of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California said Wednesday that there is a 50% chance the agency will ration deliveries to local water districts this summer. "We are now at a 1 out of 2 probability of needing to allocate water in Southern California," said Roger Patterson, Metropolitan's assistant general manager. If that occurs, it would be the first time since the state drought of the early 1990s.

A number of factors are drawing down the region's water reserves. If this winter turns out to be another dry one, water managers who have been urging conservation will start taking more forceful steps. Patterson said a decision of whether to allocate supplies will likely be made in April.

Environmental protections have cut pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta, a source of about 30% of the Southland's water. The state has gone through two consecutive years of below-average precipitation and may be headed for a third. And a long-term drought in the Colorado River basin has eliminated surplus deliveries to Southern California.

-- Bettina Boxall and Jordan Rau

Photo: Water reserves in Diamond Valley Lake, a large regional reservoir in Riverside County, are down. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times